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Original Soundtrack: I'm Not There

For Bob Dylan, a song is a living thing that changes every time it's performed. On I'm Not There, the soundtrack to Todd Haynes' new Dylan biopic, 34 Dylan songs are performed by 29 artists that mostly try to re-create old moments instead of create new ones. Eddie Vedder and Stephen Malkmus don't do much with "All Along The Watchtower" and "Ballad Of A Thin Man," respectively, and Mason Jennings draws the shortest straw by covering the most well-worn Dylan track of all, "The Times They Are A-Changin.'" At its best, I'm Not There retrieves lost gold from the nether regions of Dylan's back catalog. Sonic Youth brings appropriate spookiness to the haunting title track, an oft-bootlegged outtake from The Basement Tapes. John Doe similarly rescues "Pressing On" from Dylan's maligned gospel period, and Mark Lanegan is a natural fit for the brooding "Man In The Long Black Coat" from 1989's unjustly overlooked Oh Mercy. (Also represented by a busy version of "Ring Them Bells" by Sufjan Stevens, in self-parodic mode.) Whether in the hands of the man that wrote them or his myriad musical admirers, the songs on I'm Not There continue to live fruitful lives.


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